I’ve lived with a jagular (felis domesticus- aka small domestic cat) for 15 years. As someone with spiritual intentions, I tend to see life and things in life in part as opportunities for growth. Thus, besides thoroughly enjoying her company, I have been open and watchful for learning from her.
I have learned and continue to learn, 4 primary lessons, that she nor I have made up, but are certainly significant and common among spiritual disciplines. They are: 1-be here and now, 2-be centered, 3-keep love in your heart and 4-enjoy the simple things.
1-be here and now. When I get home from work, she is anxious to see me and hang out. Likewise when I get up in the morning. Thus her needs of my attention are daily and she constantly reminds me to not be preoccupied. She can actually tell the difference between me sitting with her and watching tv or thinking about something, and me actually being with her and giving her my undivided attention. And she let’s me know by whining and giving me a hard time when I don’t give her my undivided attention. The lesson is that in life, when you’re engaged in doing something, you fully engage it. Meditatively, you die with each moment. There is nothing else but here and now. If you are doing, then do. If you are planning, then plan. Be here, now. Having your attention on something other than what’s happening or what you’re doing is scattering your energy.
2-be centered. This is similar to the first lesson. She reminds me to not get too emotional because when I get mad at her I always feel bad afterward and its almost invariably my fault. How could it be hers? Sometimes, and its rare, but sometimes she legitimately deserves a little chastising. But mostly, she points out my faults, or rather, I see my faults as I watch myself interact with her. Anyway, being centered has to do with moderating your emotions, even the more accepted ones. When I give her too much attention or rather, when I make too big a deal of our morning and nightly meetings, she gets a little bratty and expects this all the time. When I get angry too easily and yell at her, I feel real bad afterwards. When I am too cold and aloof, I feel bad about that too. Moderating emotion is a cornerstone to spiritual achievement. She teaches me because my emotional energy affects her and then is reflected back to me in some way. When I have balanced, moderate emotions, this is what she exhibits. This makes our time together more enjoyable. It is also enormously satisfying to see her laying around, relaxed and content, as I feel I have in part, created that for her.
3-keep love in your heart.
Even thinking about her, warms my heart. It is impossible not to love her. I tend to brood sometimes, to be very serious, rational and analytical. I’ve heard just petting a pet lowers your blood pressure. I believe this. Hanging out with her, reminds me how important love is. It is the primary joy of life. It gives life color. She reminds me to avoid negative emotions and she helps me feel love. All emotions have a physiological component. They have an energy that affects you physiologically. When I’m with her, she brings out the love in my heart. Its such an important, powerful lesson. Don’t be so cold or aloof. Don’t try to be an island. Accept your wants and needs for others. Don’t be afraid of love. This is all part of her teaching.
4-enjoy the simple things
For her, just hanging out with me and a shoelace or some chart paper or a paper bag or ping pong ball, is the best. She doesn’t need anything elaborate. It is so important to remember that money can’t buy “happiness,” it can only enhance a little, the happiness you have already. Lasting “happiness” does not require complicated or elaborate trappings. I’ve heard before “if you can’t look forward to lunch and really enjoy it, you’re not living right.” This is true. She teaches me to keep my eye on the ball. An awesome car isn’t important to her. Nor a job with a lot of prestige, nor a big house or tv. A shaft of light, a nice meal and full stomach, a shoelace, clean litter box, warm and dry place to live; these are the things that have importance. Everything else is unnecessary.
One last thing I’ve noticed, which has applications with children as well. I see her as my little beta. At the risk of misleading anyone, as I am not formally schooled in this, beta is a statistical measure of the strength of the relationship between 2 variables. A beta of 1 means the dependent variable tracks the independent variable “in lock step,” pretty much the same as having a perfect correlation of 1. If beta is greater than 1, it means the dependent variable moves further than the movements of the independent variable; so for a beta of 1.5, the dependent variable moves 150% of the movements of the independent variable. My jagular reflects my energy. She absorbs and reflects back at me, the energy I manifest. Thus, I can see what energy I am channeling by watching her and watching what energy she is manifesting. This is a powerful phenomenon to watch, and works the same with children (particularly pre-adolescents, or those who’s ego has not awakened yet) or other pets. With children and pets, adults are very dominant. They absorb the energy we channel and the energy we carry around in consciousness. So, for instance, if you have a fear, your kids will have it, even if you try and hide it from them. They will also have the same perceptions and attitudes you have about realities. Watch for a future post on the “time-space or what context,” for more on perceptions, attitudes and consciousness. Anyway- when I am relaxed and buoyant, my jagular is too. If I am anxious, she shows it as well. So I get an immediate feedback on how I am doing by watching my jagular. If I am tired, she lazes around. If I feel energized, she wants to play. Its fairly immediate. As I have grown, I see improvements in my jagular.
Anyway- like all things, a taoist seeks growth out of all life’s situations. My felis-domesticus has taught me a lot, in part because I have been open to learning. I think relationships are powerful alchemy and this includes pets.